Concrete Examples of How Video Games Normalize Violence Against Women

Trigger Warning: This video includes extremely explicit and potentially triggering depictions of sexually objectified dead women and living women being violently abused, murdered, raped, and sexually assaulted.

This is the second episode exploring the “Women as Background Decoration” trope in video games from Feminist Frequency. In this installment, Anita Sarkeesian expands her discussion to examine how sexualized female bodies often occupy a dual role as both sexual playthings and the perpetual victims of male violence.

The “Women as Background Decoration” trope describes the subset of largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse (supposed) edgy, gritty, or racy flavoring into game worlds.

These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players. Sometimes they’re created to be glorified furniture, but they are frequently programmed as minimally interactive sex objects to be used and abused.

For more information on the relationship between objectification and sexual violence, check out the following Everyday Feminism articles:

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Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic and the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video webseries that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on deconstructing the stereotypes and tropes associated with women in popular culture as well as highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. Anita was the recipient of the 2014 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award, she was given a 2013 honorary award from National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers and was nominated for Microsoft’s 2014 Women in Games Ambassador Award. Please follow her on twitter at @anitasarkeesian.